Tar Heel Editors Speak Out


If it doesn’t work, fix it. This seems to be the approach our district attorney is taking with local addiction problems that impact our legal system and our society, and it’s one with promise.

Forsyth County District Attorney Jim O’Neill hopes to start a pilot program this month to help some jail inmates who are repeat offenders because of their addiction to opioids, heroin and alcohol, the Journal’s Fran Daniel reported last week.

The program is called DATA, for District Attorney’s Treatment Alternatives. It would allow some inmates to work off their low-level offenses ... while receiving treatment for their addictions, the Journal reported.

... O’Neill’s program, which is believed to be the first of its kind in North Carolina, came after lengthy discussions with many shareholders. We appreciate his determination to tackle a problem that’s been allowed to exist for too long. If his approach is successful, it will ultimately redeem many lives that would otherwise be lost to crime, despair and eventually death.

Until this year, the effort to build the Atlantic Coast Pipeline has had an aura of invincibility about it ...

Progress on getting the pipeline started bogged down this week when a federal appeals court tossed out two key permits, one from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and one from the National Park Service, both related to environmental issues. ... But Dominion Energy, the lead developer of the project, believes it can get the permits reinstated promptly.

Meanwhile, we’re wondering if the largest-by-far customer of the pipeline, Duke Energy, is rethinking its strategy of building a host of new gas-fired power plants that the pipeline will feed. We have ... increasing numbers of studies pointing to environmental damage from fracked methane gas, as well as others questioning the long-term viability of the gas fields. And ... we also have growing evidence that solar energy, with battery storage, is rapidly overtaking gas-powered plants as the most economical method of electrical generation.

This might be a good time for the project’s leaders to stop and think things over.

When did a purported nuisance become a multi-million industry of its own? In eastern North Carolina, the answer lies inside a federal courtroom where juries are returning verdicts — and judges are allowing them to fly — calling for hundreds of millions of dollars in punitive damages to be awarded to neighbors living near hog farms.

... that’s exactly what is playing out in Raleigh where the third of over 20 nuisance lawsuits against Smithfield Foods ended late last week with a verdict award of $23.5 million in compensatory damages and $450 million in punitive damages, which by N.C. law will be reduced to a total of $94 million.

The biggest mistake jurors are making ... is to assume that these multi-million dollar judgments are merely hurting Smithfield.

... Ridiculous awards aimed at punishing one company, which by the way, employs thousands ... winds up punishing everyone.

... We can only hope appeals will reach the ears of level-headed individuals who know that those living next door to hog farms don’t deserve to win the lottery while sending others to the poor house. There’s nothing just or fair about that.


No comments on this story | Please log in to comment by clicking here
Please log in or register to add your comment